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Pages tagged "Health and Wellbeing"

Motion: End Youth Suicide Week

8 March 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges that 13-17 February 2023 marked End Youth Suicide Week;

2. Notes that one in four young Australians experience a mental health issue each year;

3. Notes that suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 14 to 25 and that approximately nine young people die by suicide every day; and

4. Recognises the valuable work of the Youth Insearch Foundation to reduce the incidence of crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, and suicide in young people.

This motion seeks to acknowledge that 13 to 17 February 2023 was End Youth Suicide Week, and notes that one in four young Australians experience a mental health issue every year. It notes that suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 14 to 25, and that approximately nine young people die by suicide every day. It recognises the valuable work of the Youth Insearch Foundation to reduce the incidence of crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm and suicide in young people.

Many young people in Australia today are impacted by the problems stemming from poverty, broken and dysfunctional homes, domestic violence, sexual, physical and emotional abuse, death and grief, substance addiction and other traumatic events. As a consequence, many of these young people can struggle with education, employment, homelessness, and mental illness and find themselves turning to self-harm, suicidal ideation, drug and alcohol abuse, crime and violence.

But, also, we know that many young people take their own lives despite receiving significant support from family and friends, and that is a truly shocking and devastating thing for our community. Sadly, in Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death among those aged 14 to 25, and over one in three deaths of young people aged 14 to 25 are by suicide. In fact, approximately nine young people die by suicide in Australia every day. What is most heartbreaking is that this number continues to grow year by year.

I know, within my own social circle, I have seen the terrible effects that can flow from death by suicide, the terrible effect that has for family and friends left behind. Youth suicide in Australia disproportionately affects Indigenous, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the LGBTIQ+ community, and young people living in rural and remote areas. These are truly awful statistics.

Fortunately, there are organisations, like Youth Insearch, that shine a light on this issue and provide early intervention and support. Established in 1985, Youth Insearch is an independent not-for-profit peer-led youth intervention organisation dedicated to supporting at-risk youth overcome trauma and mental health issues, protecting them against suicide, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Youth Insearch runs one of the most successful youth intervention programs in our country. The program was developed together with young people back in 1985. The Youth Insearch program is an award-winning, proven, comprehensive early intervention program that consists of counselling, support, mentoring and empowerment for at-risk young people who are aged 14 to 20 and is delivered through weekend workshops, support groups, peer support, leadership and individual care.

The program works by allowing young people to confront and deal with the reality of the pain in their lives. By drawing on the resources of other young people and their experiences, the organisation is able to address the real problems or the underlying issues that many of these young people may face. About 30 per cent of young people who have attended the Youth Insearch program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and 10 per cent are culturally and linguistically diverse.

I understand that Youth Insearch leaders come from these diverse backgrounds and are all trained in cultural sensitivity as part of their work. In its 37 years of operation, Insearch has helped almost 32,000 young people rebuild their lives, and it has assisted a thousand young people across our country each year.

An independent external review commissioned by the New South Wales government found positive outcomes across multiple behaviour and wellbeing measures and found that the program had a sustained positive impact on these issues over time. Some of the reported positive outcomes included less trouble with police and crime, higher self-esteem, improved family relationships, reduced suicidal thoughts and attempts, reduced alcohol and drug use, and better attendance and attitude towards education.

Youth Insearch run an End Youth Suicide Week, which is a campaign to encourage the community and young people to defy the stigma associated with mental health and to have supportive conversations about suicide with their friends, families and communities. End Youth Suicide Week this year ran from Monday 13 to Friday 17 February.

I commend Youth Insearch for their success in combating youth suicide and for moving young people from trauma to triumph, and I congratulate them on a successful End Youth Suicide Week. I do hope that the week has led people to have conversations within their communities and improved awareness around suicide and has led to young people at risk being connected to the support that they need. With that, I commend the motion.

Matter of Interest: Fast Track Cities Program

22 February 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: This afternoon, I rise to speak about Adelaide's membership of the Fast-Track Cities network. The Fast-Track Cities initiative is comprised of a global network of cities and councils around the world, supported by the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Human Settlement Programme and the City of Paris.

The Fast-Track Cities initiative was launched in the City of Paris on World AIDS Day in 2014, and since then it has grown to include 276 cities worldwide, including Adelaide. Fast-Track Cities are committed to an ambitious set of targets that are outlined in the Paris and Seville Declarations to end the HIV epidemic. These targets are:

to ensure that 95 per cent of people living with HIV know their status;

to ensure that 95 per cent of people who know their HIV positive status are on antiviral therapy; and

to ensure that 95 per cent of people on antiviral therapy are with suppressed HIV viral loads.

Fast-Track Cities benefit from a range of supports, including:

capacity building for clinical and service providers, community-based organisations and affected communities;

technical assistance for health departments on data generation, monitoring and reporting;

implementation planning for key stakeholders;

eliminating HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings; and

assessing quality of life among communities of people who are living with HIV.

The Paris Declaration was signed by the then Minister for Health and Wellbeing, the Hon. Stephen Wade MLC, at the opening night of Silhouettes: Fashion in the Shadow of HIV/AIDS at the David Roache Foundation House Museum on 29 January 2022, making Adelaide the third Australian city to join this important network. I do want to recognise the Hon. Stephen Wade's leadership in that regard. I recognise that he has since resigned from this chamber.

The International Association of Providers of AIDS Care are partnering with the South Australian Mobilisation and Empowerment for Sexual Health service (SAMESH) to advance the Fast-Track Cities objectives in Adelaide. Thorne Harbour Health, previously the Victorian AIDS Council, and SHINE SA have been working together to deliver the SAMESH sexual health service in South Australia since 2015.

I had an opportunity to meet with Carolyn Gillespie, the Director of Services at Thorne Harbour Health, and Thomas Jessup, the LGBTI Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy Analyst at Thorne Harbour Health, last week to discuss the Fast-Track Cities program, and I would like to acknowledge the work that has been done by them and others in this space. I understand that SAMESH provides support, education and training about sexual health and HIV for men who have sex with men and people who live with HIV, as well as services for the broader LGBTIQ community in South Australia.

SAMESH runs a number of programs designed to prevent new HIV infections. One such program worth highlighting in this chamber is Rapido, Adelaide's first ever rapid HIV testing service. This service offers free, less confronting testing experiences for gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, including trans and gender diverse people. The service is peer led—that is, the people who are administering the service are trained individuals who identify as gay, bi or trans themselves. The test involves a simple finger prick and, as a result, an outcome is produced in just 20 minutes, which is a pretty remarkable innovation to have available in this state.

Another program is the CONNECT project, which provides free HIV self-testing kits. Participants are required to answer a few questions and provide a mobile phone number where a code can be sent to access a free HIV self-test. Participants can access the self-testing kits from CONNECT vending machines either by entering the code from their phones or by scanning a QR code. While HIV diagnoses in Australia have hit an all-time low and the country is in sight of eliminating HIV transmissions by 2030, now is not the time to take our foot off the accelerator.

The Greens will be closely monitoring the progress of the state government in terms of HIV elimination and ensuring that we achieve the objectives of the Fast-Track Cities program. We certainly recognise the significance of South Australia and Adelaide signing up, and it is incumbent on us to ensure that the resources and the leadership follow.

Motion: CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service

22 February 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

That this council—

1. Notes that CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service:

(a) is Australia's first fixed-site health and drug checking service, launched by the Australian Capital Territory government as a six-month pilot on 21 July 2022, and has been extended for another six months;

(b) provides a confidential pill-testing service that analyses contents of drugs to help service users better understand the unknown and potentially dangerous substances in illicit drugs; and

(c) provides appropriate information, counselling and advice to service users based on their specific test result, to encourage choices that reduce overall drug use and the harms associated with taking illicit drugs.

2. Recognises that drug checking is a harm reduction service that leads to most users of the service opting to discard tainted drugs.

3. Calls on the Malinauskas government to establish the fixed-site health and drug checking service in South Australia.

This motion calls for this council to recognise the CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service, which is Australia's first fixed-site health and drug checking service, launched by the Australian Capital Territory government as a six-month pilot on 21 July 2022. This motion calls for the council to recognise that that has been extended for another six months, and notes the benefit of this service, and calls on the Malinauskas government to establish a similar fixed-site health and drug checking service in South Australia. This is an issue that I have raised many times in this parliament.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2021 there were 1,704 drug-induced deaths in Australia. In many of these cases the person took a substance that was stronger than expected or had a dangerous contaminant in it that they did not know about. The composition of illicit drugs is varied and highly unpredictable. Makers of these illicit substances often cut pills with other substances or include more dangerous drugs entirely.

These drug-induced deaths could possibly have been avoided through pill testing. The purpose of the pill testing is threefold: to prevent people from using unusually strong or contaminated drugs, to communicate messages around safer drug use and reducing harm, and to improve user knowledge on how certain drugs can affect them. Through conversations with experts on the results of chemical analysis of pills, pill testing better manages the service user's risks and helps service users make an informed decisions about whether they still want to take the drug.

In addition to preventing avoidable deaths, pill testing can create an opportunity for confidential conversations about harm reduction, counselling and support services between drug users and testing staff. For some people this might be the first chance they have to talk with health services about their drug use, and pill testing provides a unique opportunity to do this in a safe and non-judgemental space.

Pill testing can help detect when a drugs market is circulating potentially more dangerous substances. This is particularly useful for emergency services and can provide an early warning system, alerting the public to dangerous drugs that might be circulating in the community. Pill testing can also collect information on drug use trends in festival and nightlife environments. This information can be used to help build research and knowledge to assist police and health services in reducing drug-related harms in these settings.

There is a large body of evidence from across the globe which shows that pill testing can alter drug-taking behaviour, potentially saving lives and reducing harm. A report from the Checkit! program in Austria reported that 50 per cent of people self-reported that the results of the test affected their consumption. Most users reported that they would wait for a result before taking the drug and when presented with a bad result, two-thirds said they would not consume the substance and would inform their friends. A similar study in the Netherlands conducted by the Addiction Research Institute found that if the test results were unexpected, many respondents would choose not to take the pill.

There is a range of research in this regard that I think is worthy of consideration by the government. It is my hope that they consider what is happening in the ACT and that they roll out a similar program in our state. I think to do so would be of great value to people in our community and would indeed save lives.

Question: Regional Health Services

9 February 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional health services.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: It was reported yesterday that SA Pathology was restructuring, with 30 nurses being moved to other parts of the healthcare system. Eight of those nurses are from regional areas. This morning, on ABC radio, Elizabeth Dabars from the Nursing and Midwifery Federation said, and I quote:

This proposal looks to completely eliminate a nursing presence out in country South Australia.

'Completely eliminate', Mr President. My question to the minister, therefore, is:

1. Does the minister believe that having no SA Pathology nurses in regional communities is acceptable?

2. What action is she taking to ensure that this calamity is averted?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. I am happy to check, but I think the item to which he is referring is a consultation paper rather than a decision of the government. However, health, of course, is looked after by my colleague in the other place so I am more than happy to refer that direct question to him and bring back a response for the honourable member.

I am in frequent discussions with my colleagues in the other place about the various portfolio areas that they have responsibility for but which, of course, have direct impacts on regional South Australia. Some of the feedback that I have had in my many visits around the state have been positive in terms of the election commitments that were made by the Malinauskas Labor government, which we are in the process of fulfilling in terms of giving health a very high priority. In terms of this particular matter, I am happy to bring back an answer.


Matter of Interest: Pill Testing

30 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak on the matter of pill testing. I travelled to the ACT back in October to visit Australia's first fixed-site pill testing service. The CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service was initiated by the Labor-Greens government in the ACT as a six-month pilot. Drug testing and pill testing have long been seen as harm minimisation approaches. Supported by the South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services and their interstate counterparts, drug checking services can prevent immediate harm, increase education and awareness and alert authorities to new substances.

Harm reduction has also been acknowledged at a federal level as a key component of the National Drug Strategy. According to the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 3.1 million Australians had used illicit drugs at some point in their lives. Shifting to a health-based approach meets the reality that many in our community are already using drugs. This is not about trying to condone the use of illicit substances but it is recognising that people are already using these substances and we need to do what we can to save lives.

The Greens believe that harm minimisation is the most appropriate way to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug and substance abuse. Drug testing and pill testing is used in over 20 countries across Europe, the Americas and New Zealand. It has been used as part of a harm reduction strategy for over five decades. Consecutive studies have also revealed widespread support for pill testing in the community. In 2019, 57 per cent of Australians supported pill testing but only 27 per cent were revealed to be directly opposed, according to opinion polls.

Drug testing is supported by a range of public health organisations, including the Public Health Association, the Australian Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. I know that the conservative media often try to paint pill testing as some sort of radical concept, but I would hardly describe the AMA as a radical left-wing organisation.

At the CanTEST site I visited in the ACT, people can access the service between 10am and 1pm on Thursdays and 6pm and 9pm on Fridays. It is a free, confidential service. No ID is required, and all data is de-identified. Service users feel safe being anonymous, and they can seek advice in a non-threatening way. I must say I was really impressed with the level of service that is provided. It is an STI testing clinic as well, so someone can get themselves tested for STIs as well as ensure that any substances they have in their possession are tested.

They are also advised at this service that it is not safe to take any illicit substances. They are discouraged from doing so, and they are encouraged to think about a plan around what they might do if they are taking these substances. It is certainly not the case that, if a substance is tested and is confirmed to be what the visitor considers it to be, they are just told, 'Go on, have a great night. Off you go.' That is not the focus of this service.

The CanTEST trial has produced some really interesting results. In the six-month trial, they have tested 232 samples and provided 294 alcohol and other drug interventions. Of those who visited, 17 per cent chose to voluntarily discard their samples after the testing showed that there was already a minimisation of the risk of harm.

Some of the samples were found to be less pure than the client expected, and some of the substances contained none of the anticipated ingredients. One supposed sample of methamphetamine was found to contain no methamphetamine and only sugar, while a sample of cocaine was found to contain only methamphetamine. Purity of cocaine and heroin was between 5 per cent and 71 per cent in the samples tested at the site. Much of the MDMA contained caffeine, and 20 per cent of the MDMA samples were not even MDMA at all.

The statistics tell us a few important stories. Firstly, harm minimisation is already taking place as clients of the service were already surrendering their samples after testing. Secondly, people's expectations of their substances did not always match their samples. Finally, the data revealed that this is a really valuable service for health professionals and law enforcement agencies. By understanding what drugs are available on the market, we can better create strategies for managing and minimising risk to individuals and the community. I encourage the government to consider the trial and take action.


Question: Supporting Aids Health Care in SA

1 December 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the minister representing the Minister for Health on the topic of World AIDS Day.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Today, 1 December, is World AIDS Day, a day to raise awareness about issues surrounding HIV and AIDS and a day to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died. According to the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, there are an estimated 29,000 people currently living with HIV in Australia. Since 2016, notifications of HIV have declined by 37 per cent. This decline has been attributed to beneficial interventions in prevention, diagnosis and treatments.

In Adelaide, people living with HIV can access a number of services, in particular through the O'Brien Street clinic. Earlier this year, it was announced that the O'Brien Street clinic would be relocating the services to a new location. The O'Brien Street clinic provides health services for more than 250 HIV positive patients, plus many more with complex health needs. The service is discreet and conveniently located. A report, along with recommendations, I understand, has been submitted to CALHN by Professor Judith Dwyer regarding the relocation of these services. My question to the minister therefore is:

1. What are the latest approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment for HIV and AIDS in South Australia?

2. Can the Attorney-General, representing the health minister, provide an update on the relocation of the services of the O'Brien Street clinic?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question and acknowledge the important role that he has played in the community in his advocacy, not just at a state level but previously at a local government and at a federal government level. I know the honourable member has advocated in areas of HIV prevention in terms of funding for sexual health services and treatment, so I acknowledge the leadership the Hon. Robert Simms has taken in this area. I will be most pleased to pass his questions on to the health minister in another place and bring back a reply.


Reply received on 7 February 2023:

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has advised:

1. The South Australian public health response to HIV is guided by the National HIV Strategy, a framework for a coordinated national approach to this important public health issue building on decades of successful partnerships between government, community, clinicians and researchers.

The South Australian government remains firmly committed to achieving the goals and targets of the National HIV Strategy, including the elimination of HIV transmission in South Australia by 2030. Thanks to scientific advances and the tireless efforts of health workers and community organisations, this goal is now not only realistic but within reach.

In recent years, the rollout of HIV preventive medications (PrEP) has contributed significantly to reducing transmission. It is estimated that around 1,500 South Australians were prescribed HIV PrEP during 2022. Uptake continues to increase on the back of concerted efforts to expand our network of PrEP prescribing clinicians, and to educate the community on the importance of this and other HIV prevention strategies.

Secondly, reducing time to diagnosis and treatment initiation is also key to Australia's HIV elimination efforts. To this end, there has been continued innovation in diverse and accessible testing models. In South Australia, members of the community may access rapid and self-testing options, in addition to visiting their GP or sexual health clinic.

Finally, being on treatment enables people living with HIV to reduce their viral load to an undetectable level. This concept, known as 'U=U', not only enables people living with HIV to enjoy a long, healthy life, it also means they cannot transmit their infection to their sexual partners. Thanks to community mobilisation as well as investment in patient-centred models of care and support services, the majority of South Australians living with HIV are on treatment and 'undetectable'.

2. The Central Adelaide Local Health Network is currently considering new locations for the practice.

An O'Brien Street practice relocation planning group has been established to oversee the move to a new location. This group includes O'Brien Street patient representatives and the practice's senior medical practitioner, as well as representatives from other government and non-government service providers.

Tobacco Product Prohibitions Amendment Bill

30 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise today to speak very briefly in support of the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products (Tobacco Product Prohibitions) Amendment Bill 2022. This bill, introduced by the Hon. Connie Bonaros, is a simple one. It increases the penalties for people who illegally import or pack tobacco in South Australia. These increased penalties are in close alignment with other jurisdictions, such as New South Wales and Victoria.

As with other drug reform, the Greens regard this as a health issue and believe that we should be guided by a harm minimisation approach. According to the Cancer Council, tobacco smoking is the largest preventable cause of cancer and the single greatest cause of preventable death. In Australia, smoking is estimated to kill almost 20,500 people per year. Dr Caroline Miller, from SAHMRI, in relation to plain packaging of cigarettes has stated: 'Implementing strong tobacco control policy measures like this ultimately makes profound differences for public health and our health system.'

I understand, in a separate bill, we will be considering the nature of packaging in more detail, but the fundamental principle here is the same: the regulation of the tobacco industry will give us beneficial health outcomes. The Hon. Connie Bonaros has brought to our attention the practice of illegally importing and packing tobacco products and described for us in detail how this system works. Illicit tobacco products are unregulated and, as such, we have no understanding of whether or not they are safe for sale within our country or whether or not they meet Australian standards. We do not know how much extra harm they cause beyond the harm that is already caused by tobacco products.

The intended outcome of this bill, and the increased penalties, is to deter people from illegally selling illicit cigarettes, and the Greens certainly support that objective. We hope that this is what will happen in practice, and that a reduction in illegal tobacco products will result in less harm for South Australians.

We will need to wait and see whether these increased penalties have the desired effect in terms of reducing the illegal packaging and import of cigarettes and tobacco products. I hope that, should this bill become law, the government will closely monitor its effectiveness. It may be some time before we have appropriate evidence to show us if these increased penalties have worked, and I look forward to looking at the outcomes.

As I indicated from the outset, the Greens are supportive of the honourable member's bill. I put on the public record our appreciation to the Hon. Connie Bonaros for putting this on the agenda of the parliament.

Question: Pill Testing in South Australia

29 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General, representing the Minister for Health, on the topic of pill testing.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I recently visited Australia's first fixed-site pill testing service, which is based in the ACT, known as the CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service. The program was a six-month trial, initiated by the ACT government, to address harm reduction associated with drug use. The service analysed the contents of drugs to help service users understand unknown and potentially dangerous substances. Drug checking facilities have been used internationally since the 1990s and are available in 20 countries within Europe, the Americas and New Zealand.

In the six-month trial that began on 21 July and ceased on 20 October, CanTEST tested 232 samples and staff provided 294 alcohol and other drug interventions. After receiving their results, 43 samples were voluntarily discarded by service users. The trial also uncovered new drugs that were previously unknown. The South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services (SANDAS) has stated that pill testing and drug testing reduces harm by reducing immediate risk of contaminants, expanding opportunities for education and providing an early warning system for new dangers associated with drug use.

Pill testing has been supported by organisations such as the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Society of South Australia and the Royal Australian College of Physicians. My question to the Attorney-General therefore is: does the government agree that pill testing is an effective harm minimisation measure and, in the lead-up to the festival season, will the government follow the lead of the ACT and investigate pill testing here in South Australia?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question and will pass on those questions to my colleague in another place and bring back a reply.


Reply received 7 February 2023:

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has advised:

Our government released and is now implementing a comprehensive policy regarding illicit drugs that involves more rehabilitation beds and more support to families of drug users.

Our government has been consistent before the election in not supporting pill testing as part of our policy.

Speaking on Healthcare (Acquisition of Property) Amendment Bill

29 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak on behalf of the Greens on the Health Care (Acquisition of Property) Amendment Bill. Under current legislation the government can acquire land for public hospitals, but this bill expands the potential for those acquisition powers to extend to health services in general, especially for new ambulance services.

In the last few years, South Australia has been dealing with a ramping crisis, one that was created by both of the two major parties. We have continually heard stories of people waiting too long for ambulances. We have also heard of people being too scared to call an ambulance for fear of how long it will take. This is simply not good enough in a state like South Australia that has the resources that we have.

We do welcome the government's commitment to build new ambulance stations and so we are supportive of the general principle of this bill. We understand that there is a need to co-locate health services to make it easier for people to access multiple services. We also understand that ambulance services have very specific needs and that these need to be taken into account when selecting new locations.

Minister Picton, I understand, has advised the other place that the SA Ambulance Service needs to be located close to main roadways so as to avoid bottlenecks and to ensure best possible response times. For these reasons, we can see situations where compulsory acquisitions may be required. We have been advised that the usual planning and heritage processes will continue to apply to any properties already compulsorily acquired under this provision. Given the recent example of the use of Parklands for health services, assurances that heritage and planning laws will still apply are very important.

I am aware of the amendments that the opposition has filed. We will certainly consider the debate during the committee stage of the bill, but I flag that the Greens are disinclined to support those simply on the basis that this may narrow the field. We are concerned that this may prevent the potential for acquisitions for mental health services, and we recognise that that is an important issue that requires attention from government. We will certainly engage in the committee stage of the bill and I will be asking some questions of the government in that regard.


Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill

16 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak briefly in favour of the Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill on behalf of the Greens. In so doing, I want to acknowledge the leadership of the Hon. Frank Pangallo in this regard. I recognise that the honourable member first introduced this bill into this place back in 2020, before my time in the parliament. The Greens were supportive of the bill at that time and we are again supportive of the legislation. I certainly recognise the leadership of the honourable member in keeping this issue on the agenda. It is certainly one that will save lives.

In Australia, approximately 30,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of hospital, with only 9 per cent of those surviving. Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, and it is one of the biggest killers of Australians under the age of 50.

According to the Heart Foundation, without chest compressions and the use of a defibrillator, a person in cardiac risk will not survive. Cardiac arrest can take less than 10 minutes to cause death; sometimes an ambulance can take longer than that to arrive. We know that that is the case here in our state, as we continue to deal with the ramping crisis that both major political parties have overseen due to their failure to invest in our health sector.

Access to defibrillators can be the difference between life and death. They are simple to use, do not give a shock unless required, and provide guidance to the user through vocal prompts. They are safe, they are straightforward. Why should we not ensure that they are available for use in the community?

I will say, the Hon. Frank Pangallo did bring into Parliament House recently some of these mobile devices and showed these to me. I was really impressed with the technology and I can see that really has the potential to be used in lots of different settings and also potentially reduces the cost for entities that are going to be required to install these.

The bill will ensure that public buildings are fitted with an automated external defibrillator and I am sure that will result in saving more lives. My office has heard anecdotally of batteries of automated external defibrillators being stolen and I understand that they can have significant resale value. Regular replacement due to theft could be a burden for community-owned organisations if they are required to have a functioning defibrillator available under the legislation.

We do hope that the government will support community-owned buildings, such as local sporting groups, in managing this cost. This is a matter that the Hon. Justin Hanson raised on behalf of the Labor Party in the last parliament and it is an important point and one that I hope Labor will take up now that they are in government.

We note that the Hon. Frank Pangallo has amendments to this bill to remove the South Australia Police from requiring automatic external defibrillators and I understand that this is due to the financial implications of including SAPOL in the legislation. We support the amendments that set the commencement date to 2025 for public buildings and 2026 for private buildings. This allows time for organisations to forecast the expense in budgets and to prepare for the change in legislation. This is a significant change and so the amendment being advanced by the honourable member makes sense.

The bill has been widely supported by organisations, including the Heart Foundation and the Ambulance Employees Association. The Greens are also supportive of having automatic external defibrillators accessible in public spaces. If these devices are readily available in the situation of cardiac arrest, then they will save lives.

I will take this opportunity to just briefly indicate the Greens will not be supporting the amendments foreshadowed by the opposition. The suggestion that there be a very low penalty applied we do not believe would ensure compliance with this new regime. It is important that the penalty provides an adequate disincentive and ensures that there is appropriate compliance. We are concerned that the amendments from the opposition undermine that objective. With that, I conclude my remarks.